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'Lake Baikal, where the ice queen cast her spell'
Mike Carter, The Observer, 2009

Major push launched to boost number of Chinese tourists visiting Russia

By Anna Liesowska
01 April 2015

New tourism offices planned across China as government eyes up five-fold increase in visitors crossing the border.

Chinese tourist on the Circum-Baikal Railway. Picture: Alexander Belenkiy/macos.livejournal.com

A major push to increase the number of Chinese visitors coming to Russia has been launched by the Federal Agency for Tourism.

Several offices, for marketing and promoting the country, are being opened in China including one in Beijing and some in the northern and southern provinces.

Bureaus may also appear in large cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai and Harbin, and a special section of the tourism website Russia.travel will be dedicated for Chinese people.

The plans were announced by Oleg Safonov, the head of Rosturizm, the Federal Agency for Tourism, at the Summit of the Russian-Chinese Tourism Forum in Moscow.

Last year 1.2million people from China visited Russia, but there is now scope for increasing this number.

Mr Safonov said: 'This number is impressive in absolute terms. However, given the fact that over the last year more than 100 million Chinese tourists travelled abroad there is still room for us to grow.'

The push in China comes amid a concerted effort to promote Russia in other countries, with the Russian National Tourist Office opening a bureau in Dubai and there are plans to open others in Germany and Italy.

Northern China is particularly important, with about 500 million people living near the border with Russia.

Tourism in Buryatia


Tourism in Buryatia

The Buryat Republican Tourism Agency is continuing to promote Siberia’s 'Great Tea Road' to overseas tour operators, particularly in China. Pictures: Baikal Eco

Agencies in China, including the State Administration of Tourism, are also trying to promote Russia as a destination for travellers, and have set a target to increase visitor numbers five-fold to five million people a year.

Ivan Vvedensky, chairman of The World without Borders non-profit partnership, said: 'We also know about plans by our Chinese colleagues to expand the program of charter flights to Russia.

'We know that this will open new routes from Sichuan Province, located in the south central part of China. In addition, there are negotiations on scheduled flights from Russia to China that can be subsidized by the Chinese side to increase the flow of our tourists.'

Officials know that one of the main ways to increase tourist numbers is to make the visa process much easier.

Speaking at the summit, business ombudsman Boris Titov proposed the introduction of visa-free travel between Russia and China. He has even sent a letter to President Vladimir Putin, in which he noted that the visa-free regime should be available for a stay of 90 days or less.

One of the regions particularly keen on increasing the number of Chinese visitors is Buryatia, with focus on Lake Baikal.

According to the official Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, Buryatia is a 'wonderful and beautiful land of mountains, deep rivers, numerous lakes, and green valleys.'

Potential visitors are then told: 'If you want to have a rest and recover, Buryatia was made just for you!'

Tourism in Buryatia


Tourism in Buryatia

Buryatia's jewel in the crown is Lake Baikal, the deepest and oldest anywhere in the world. Pictures: Oleg Shubarov, Visit Buryatia

The region is rich in flora and fauna, natural resources, and mineral and thermal waters. But its jewel in the crown is Lake Baikal, the deepest and oldest anywhere in the world.

Thought to be 25 million years old, it stretches for 400 miles through south-eastern Siberia, north of the Mongolian border. It contains 20 per cent of the world’s unfrozen freshwater reserves and in places is said to be about 5,387ft deep.

The Buryat Republican Tourism Agency is continuing to promote Siberia’s 'Great Tea Road' to overseas tour operators, particularly in China whose tourists have shown a great interest.

Eduard Sokol-Nomokonov, director of the Institute of Spatial Planning and Management at Trans-Baikal State University, commented: 'The main attraction for the Chinese tourists and the main brand for us is Lake Baikal.

'Just yesterday our Chinese partners confirmed their intention to build a similar to Chita tourism and transit centre in Ulan-Ude, or in its vicinity, if such an opportunity will be given. Also there are plans to build a special informational point on Lake Baikal.'

Comments (2)

Help us to collect garbage from the shores of Lake Baikal http://www.indiegogo.com/project/preview/1b56c8a1
Mikhail, Russia
09/08/2015 19:42
1
0
Once the new Casino opens in Vladivostok, it will add another reason for the 500 Chinese in the Northern half of China to visit Russia. Vladivostok is "exotic" for Chinese, Japanese and Koreans for its "European" flavour and history. The same way Macau is "special" for its "European" (Portuguese) flavour, Vladivostok attracts thousands of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans for keeping not just the "European flavour" but also a mostly European population with many blonde girls, Cyrillic alphabet in the streets and Orthdox churches.
Enrique, Spain
01/04/2015 20:49
4
1
1

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